We’ve long wondered why the alternative finance bond market has, until now, solely focused on private businesses. Surely there are enough smaller businesses listed on the alternative (AIM) and main stock markets in London warrant debt or loan issues? These publicly quoted businesses should boast much better transparency when it comes to financial and trading data and – perish the thought – might actually make for more reliable issuers of debt. Crucially many of these ‘micro cap’ businesses currently struggle to raise growth capital from mainstream financial institutions such as banks. They may be big compared to crowdfunded businesses but they’re frequently not ‘safe’ enough for mainstream lenders, especially if they have ambitious plans for takeovers and growth.
The good news today is that the always innovative UK Bond Network has finally produced what we think is a real first. It’s latest deal is a publicly listed business using an alternative finance platform to raise growth capital via a debt issue – in this particular case a convertible which carries a decent interest rate and some upside equity option if things go right.
The box below gives more detail on the business in question – Venture Life. We can’t say we know much about the business but it seems to be in a promising part of the healthcare segment. What we can say is that its financials look half decent although it’s important to say that it isn’t profitable. Hopefully the newly acquired business will help the drive towards profitability and a cashflow positive position, but at the moment the listed business is burning through its cash. The table below gives you more detail on the AIM listed outfit.
The reason for the convertible issue – it’s called a convertible because one part of the structure allows the investor to convert the debt instrument into equity – is a takeover. Venture Life is buying Periproducts Limited for cash of £5.6m. This new addition to the group is a UK-based oral care products company with a range of premium products including mouthwashes, which are alcohol-free, and toothpastes. Periproducts recorded turnover and an operating profit of £2.8 million and £0.2 million respectively in the year ended 30 November 2015. On a cash and debt-free basis, the headline consideration represents a multiple of 1.4 times Periproducts' turnover for the year ended 30 November 2015. It’s worth noting that in the period between 2012 through to 2014 Periproducts made a loss. Net assets of the business amount to £1.7m.
To fund the purchase Venture is issuing 2.4m shares raising £1.7m. There’s also the aforementioned convertible bond issue which it hopes will raise up to £2.0 million, of which £1.5 million has been underwritten – it seems almost certain that at least £1.9min bonds will be issued.
And the bond itself? Here’s the main features:
The second box below gives much more detail about the security of the loan.